October 29, 2015
America’s corporate media tends to take a fairly — ahem – sedate attitude towards actual news, especially when there’s some good political horse racing to keep the ratings up. But today, there is some actual news that Americans really ought to care about: the European Parliament has officially declared Edward Snowden an “international human rights defender,” calling on all EU member states to drop any criminal charges against the whistle-blower and guarantee him freedom from extradition to the US, where he still faces charges.
The resolution, which followed what EU Civil Liberties Committee chair Claude Moraes described as the Parliament’s “most comprehensive investigation completed to date,” marks a tremendous moment of international support for Snowden.
The announcement shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock to readers of Snowden, the acclaimed recent graphic biography by Ted Rall, which noted that European governments had taken serious notice of Snowden’s revelations:
Another book we’re proud to publish is Censored, an annual collection of un- and underreported news stories from the heroic Project Censored. One of the stories detailed in this year’s edition concerns ICREACH, the “NSA’s secret search engine,” which scans millions of Americans’ private phone and email communications, “[making] massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies.” The project was first brought to light by Scottish reporter Ryan Gallagher. Gallagher’s original source? The documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Speaking of the European Parliament’s resolution today, Project Censored associate director Andy Lee Roth noted that it “affirms the ‘rights of citizens’ rather than the ‘convenience of spies,’ to borrow the phrasing Snowden used when he testified before the Parliament in March 2014. On that occasion, Snowden reminded the EU (and the world) that no western government had presented evidence to show that mass surveillance programs were necessary. Snowden’s point remains vital today, and the Parliament’s recognition of him as an ‘international human rights defender’ is one symbolic but significant step forward in countering what we at Project Censored have reported as an ongoing war on whistle-blowers.”
Turning his attention stateside, Project Censored director Mickey Huff added that he and his colleagues at the Project “would love to see the members of US Congress come to their senses and do the same. That the US’s political elite have instead mostly vilified Snowden illustrates their contempt for transparency, accountability, and free speech, and their support for censorship and secrecy. The EU vote is a welcome development, and it contrasts starkly with the backward position of the US on this and related issues.”